The State Department told Reuters on Wednesday that the US has no plans to normalize or upgrade relations with Syria and would not encourage others to do so. The comments came as Jordan fully reopened its border with Syria.
“The United States will not normalize or upgrade our diplomatic relations with the Assad regime nor do we encourage others to do so,” a State Department spokesperson said. “Assad has regained no legitimacy in our eyes, and there is no question of the US normalizing relations with his government at this time.”
The US maintains crushing economic sanctions on Syria that specifically target the construction and energy sectors to make it difficult for the country to rebuild. Sanctions imposed under the Caesar Act in 2020 can target any individual, company, or government that is doing business with Syria regardless of nationality, meaning Jordan could be targeted.
In June, a Biden administration official warned other countries against opening up with Syria and threatened Caesar Act sanctions. “Governments and businesses need to be careful that their proposed or envisioned transactions don’t expose them to potential sanctions from the United States under that act,” said Joey Hood, the acting assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs.
On top of the sanctions, the US maintains a small occupation force of about 900 troops in eastern Syria, where most of the country’s oil fields are, keeping the resource out of Damascus’ hands. The US also backs the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in the region.
The goal of Washington’s Syria policy is regime change in Damascus. But the worst of the war against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is over, and he is not going anywhere. All the sanctions and occupation will do is hurt the civilian population.